KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Alex Deibold, who spent the Vancouver Games as a wax technician for the U.S. snowboardcross team, is now a bronze medalist. And he earned it by a nose.
On a soggy, mushy, ugly course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Deibold outlasted crashes, falls and altogether chaos to salvage a day that saw the United States' three other riders fail to make the finals.
"The name of the game after watching the women's [race on Sunday]," Diebold said, "was to stay on your feet."
The 27-year-old from Colorado needed a little help, especially in the semifinals, when two crashes and a photo finish pushed him forward. Jockeying for position in the air, Deibold accidentally clipped the nether regions of teammate Trevor Jacob. Later on in the race, both slid across the finish line, trying to get the final qualifying spot.
The photograph showed Deibold about 6 inches ahead of Jacob, the nose of his board positioned properly to cross the line first.
"I passed him, he passed me back and I knew I was going to have to be [clever] to make it past the line," Diebold said. "I love Trevor and he's on my team. Those moments are hard."
In the final race, Deibold overtook France's Paul-Henri De le Rue on one of the final turns to take the bronze. France's Pierre Vaultier won the gold and Russia's Nikolay Olyunin took the silver.